Looking forward to 2012-13 school year

15 Sep

Well, the 2012-2013 school year has started, and I’m in it up to my eyeballs. (You can see my report on last year here.) But it’s pretty exciting stuff. I’ve got two classes this fall, PhD qualifying exams in the spring, and two new “course preps” this year. I’m also continuing my research activities. More on all these items below.

My fall classes are both in Cognitive Science, the last I need to complete my formal minor in that field. The survey course, with Prof. Johnson in the Carlson School of Management, is pretty sweeping in its scope. I’m hoping to tame that a little by constructing my final project as an empirical research proposal on the way that judges perform analogical reasoning when positioning a case at bar among precedents that would dictate different outcomes. The second course is with Prof. Gundel, who I think I can fairly call a cognitive linguist. The focus of that seminar is on pathology and language in cognition. The group will be looking particularly at autism, Alzheimer’s, and schizophrenia; I’m not sure what my paper topic there will be…. But when I finish this semester, I’ll be done with my coursework! Hooray!

Fortunately, the reading burdens in these two courses are light (at least compared to the crazy amount of reading and writing that courses in my major program require). That’s important, because I’m also spending spare time this semester studying for my PhD qualifying exams. They will consist of four 24-hour take-home exams that I will write in February or March of 2013. I posted the long list of texts that I’ll be responsible for during the exams. The preparation is pretty intense, but I got a head start by studying with colleagues Laura and Brigitte over the summer.

This fall, I’m teaching freshmen for the first time, in sort of an “honors” first-year composition class (students had to test into it). They’ve turned in their first writing assignments already, and I’m really pleased by the results. I’ve got them reading some pretty sophisticated scholarly articles and texts on the issue of “robo-grading” (I’ll try to post on that another time). In spring, I’ll be teaching a different course, “Writing Argument,” with juniors and seniors. I’m planning to bill it as a taste of how legal arguments are constructed. My students will be reading about copyright fair use and attempting to make arguments about where it applies and whether the doctrine/concept is still viable.

As for research, I’m gradually working on the analysis of my dissertation data (hopefully the subject of another post). I’ve also accidentally gotten myself into three conference presentations this year:

  • Dr. Lee-Ann Kastman Breuch and I will present a talk titled “Analysis and Impact of Student Research Writing in a Technical and Professional Writing Course” at the conference of the Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication at Michigan Technological University the end of this month. Our project focuses on “research writing,” or the ways in which undergraduate students interpret, evaluate, and communicate research findings in a written report. We will share preliminary findings of an analysis of 30 student research reports in a technical and professional writing course at a large public institution.
  • My colleague Trent Kays and I will take part in a roundtable at the 2013 Modern Language Association conference in Boston in January 2013. MLA President Michael Bérubé has decided to include the roundtable, titled “Building Bridges within Digital Humanities,” in the brochure on this year’s presidential theme, Avenues of Access. The purpose of the roundtable is to bring together digital humanities scholars working in a variety of languages and approaches. It seeks to find ways to build bridges between the “Anglo-American” center of DH with the rest of the world of DH, both within and outside of the US borders. Trent is one of two presiders for the roundtable; I am one of five speakers. I’ll focus on ethnocentric and gendered assumptions in natural language processing research.
  • I’ll present a paper “Examining a Twitter-Based Discourse Community of Composition Scholars” at the 2013 Conference on College Composition and Communication in Las Vegas in March 2013. The presentation is part of a panel titled “Web 2.0 as Public Writing: Composition, Collaboration, and Discourse Community in Social Media,” that will present case studies in public and scholarly social media use, suggesting theory models that better account for the dynamics of social media use, and applying these theory models to social media in scholarly settings.

I’d be pulling my hair out now preparing for these three conferences if the papers were not already written.

OK that’s enough of an update for now!

-Brian

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